I’ll be doing some editing work on the OU’s own Classical Reception journal over the next few weeks, so Reception is on my mind.
What is Classical Reception? Well, it’s the combination of Classics with whatever your hobby happens to be. (That isn’t an official definition, by the way, so don’t quote me…!)
Many years ago, when I was young, before the elbow patches on my jacket grew patches of their own, ‘Reception’ was a rude word. People would talk about it in the pub after a few drinks had lowered their inhibitions, but it wasn’t an appropriate topic of conversation within the Department. I knew academics who spent their weekends researching the use of Roman motifs by the Third Reich, or the reflections of Roman constitutional change in the Star Wars movies; then on Monday morning they would emerge from their sheds, blinking in the unfamiliar light of day, and go back to their proper research.
How things have changed, in only a couple of decades! Today we have classicists who actually celebrate their interest in the classical resonances of the Whedonverse, and who organise conferences with likeminded academics – openly, in public, without dark glasses and a false moustache. With the rise of the Great ‘Interdisciplinary’ Buzzword, all doors are open to the intrepid classicist.
Naturally, a body of theory has arisen to give this intellectual shift some academic credibility; and when writing about Reception it’s important to situate your approach properly within this emerging disciplinary code. That’s a serious business, and requires the appropriate vocabulary, as well as in-depth critical engagement. However, it can’t quite hide the gleeful sense of fun we get from rampaging around like overeducated puppies, sticking our noses into everyone else’s scholarly territory. The growing credibility of Reception has given classicists a whole bunch of new things to say, and new audiences to annoy.
The great thing about Reception is that it’s not just entertaining to pursue for research purposes; it’s also fun to read. A single edition of a Reception journal will cover all sorts of things, from the serious to the silly, across a vast range of cultures, media and languages, written by people who are passionate about their topics. That’s why Reception sites, like market stalls, are worth visiting from time to time: you never quite know what you might pick up.
Here’s a round-up of some eclectic Reception stalls for you to browse – with the OU journal first, since I’m rather attached to it:
New Voices in Classical Reception Studies, an open access journal published by the Open University. One edition a year, when we manage to get around to it.
Classical Receptions Journal from Oxford University Press. Lots to read, since this journal is nearly 10 years old.
Eidolon; not at all politically correct, but full of interesting and debatable ideas, and an easy way to waste several hours once you get hooked!
Classics Confidential: some entertaining videos to watch in the Reception category.
Let me know if you have other favourite Reception sites – or if you have your own Reception passion!
Cora Beth Knowles